CD Projekt RED is a Polish video game developer, best known for its popular The Witcher series. At E3 2013 they showed the first gameplay footage of their upcoming The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, and by many accounts, stole the show. The demo, which was in pre-alpha stage at the time, already looked better than most, if not all other next generation games that were on display. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt will be released on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC in 2014.
The demo we saw took us through a little bit of world exploration, combat, and questing. We loved the demo, and fans of previous Witcher games, or massive open-world RPGs like Skyrim should be excited for this one.
CDPR’s Maciej Szcześnik, Lead Gameplay Designer and Andrzej Kwiatkowski, Gameplay Designer, granted Brian (@silentfury007) and Shank (@ShankThTank) an interview, and we thought you guys would love to see what we got. There is a ton of amazing content below, and we wanted to make sure you were able to soak up every little bit. So without further ado, let’s talk The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.
QGN: How large is the game world? Both in terms of square miles/kilometers and how long it would take me to walk from one end to the other?
Maciej Szcześnik, Lead Gameplay Designer: We’d like to avoid providing you with square mileage because it doesn’t really give you the scale of things. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is 35 times bigger than The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings. It would take roughly 40 minutes to traverse the world on horseback end to end. It’s really big.
QGN: During your e3 presentation, I believe you mentioned DX11. What specific DX11 features will you utilize (for example, tessellation, ambient occlusion, depth of field, global illumination, etc.)?
MS: We’ll definitely make the most of DX 11 to give the graphics that extra edge. We’ve got full tessellation of water and terrain, and we’re also considering using compute shaders to make the graphics really stand out. As far as things not DX11-related go, we have physics-based rendering – which helps, among other things, to make weather effects more believable and also gives materials such as leather or metal a truly genuine feel. Ambient occlusion and DoF are a must, too. Not to get into too many technical details, though, the game’s visual side is really going to shine.
QGN: How will the PC version differ from the console versions? What extra features/functions do you plan on including with the PC version?
MS: Our aim is to deliver the same visual and gameplay experience on every platform – we do not want to differentiate between gamers.
QGN: What kind of draw distance can we expect? For example, if I’m on the island of Skellige, can I see mountains far off on the mainland?
MS: I can’t answer this question at the current stage of development – much depends on the optimization of the game, which usually takes place at the end of development. We’ll push the graphics to the limit, but we can’t overtax the hardware as we intend the game to also run on older PCs.
QGN: For the PC version, will there be gamepad support? (ie, can I use my Xbox 360 controller?)
MS: Yes, if nothing changes, we will support gamepads.
QGN: Can you talk about weather at all? For example, will storms roll in randomly, and will they affect gameplay at all?
MS: The weather system in The Witcher 3 will be really advanced. What’s special about it is the fact that the gradual change in the weather will be observable – small clouds will turn into big storm clouds which, in turn, can smash your boat if you’re caught on open waters. Also, the weather will influence NPCs and the general environment – villagers will seek shelter in taverns during heavy rain and will venture out into the woods to gather supplies when it’s warm.
QGN: Without getting into specifics, in terms of side quests, in-game activities/hobbies, etc., is there enough to do outside of the main quest line to keep players playing for weeks and months?
MS: Sure! We’ve got a strong 100+ hours of gameplay to offer right off the bat. 50+ of that is devoted to the powerful main story arc and the rest is pure side-quest fun. Take monster hunting, for example. It’s a totally new and exciting feature that will allow players to feel like a true Witcher – while hunting monsters you’ll get to discover clues about their whereabouts and nature, find their weak spots and strike when they least expect it.
QGN: I love that games are making decisions an important part of gameplay, and that those decisions affect the world and are permanent. But sometimes in real life we feel bad for some of our choices, and decide to make it right. I know decisions will play a big part in shaping this world, but will there be any instances where players can change their mind? For example, if Geralt makes a decision that causes some damage (whether emotional or physical), will there be any way he can “make it up to them” later on?
MS: We try to develop the game in accordance with the general mood of The Witcher universe – the world Geralt lives in is very dark and seldom allows second-guessing yourself. That said, the major choices in the game will have permanent and visible ramifications – you’ll see the consequences of your decision and there will be no taking anything back. What’s more, you’ll sometimes see these consequences reverberate through a long portion of the game – this is because we don’t want you to simply “load a save game” and see the alternative. As for the lesser choices, we don’t exclude “making it up” to people/parties, but that would be going deep into the plotline and it’s too early at this point.
QGN: Will there be any sort of housing available for Geralt to purchase/store stuff in?
Andrzej Kwiatkowski, Gameplay Designer: No, we do not plan on Geralt having a house. This does not mean that the witcher will not be able to store his gear in various places – it does, however, reflect the nature of witchers. Basically, witchers are traveling monster hunters that sell their skill to everyone who has enough money to hire them. Having a house just doesn’t fit that description.
QGN: Will there be many different gear sets/weapon types for Geralt to use? Will they be upgradeable/craftable?
AK: Yes! We’ve got a greatly enhanced crafting system in the game that allows players to create vast numbers of items like armor elements and weapons. Bombs, oils and throwables are also at your disposal – there’s plenty of stuff to fight with and wear!
QGN: Will Geralt have the choice to use or not use companions at all? For example, maybe companions will be available, but if he’s feeling anti-social, can he leave them behind? 🙂
Maciej Szcześnik: To a certain point, yes, Geralt will be able to employ companions during his adventure but that’s rather a quest-specific thing. Geralt is a lone wolf, others mostly slow him down – that’s why we don’t plan on introducing permanent NPC companions to aid him, it wouldn’t be in accordance with the lore.
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So there you have it. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is shaping up to be one of the biggest, most beautiful, and most engrossing games early in the next generation. With choices that truly matter, graphics that push the limits even on brand new consoles, and a developer that truly cares about giving gamers the absolute best gaming experience, this is one to watch.
What do you think? Is this game on your radar? Share your thoughts in the comments below. And remember, for all things Witcher 3, keep it locked to QGN.